Welcome to Robert Marsham’s Tricentenary Celebrations website

Robert Marsham [1708 – 1797] began recording seasonal records of nature’s distinct events in 1736, an activity known as phenology.

He meticulously catalogued detailed records of seasonal weather and temperature changes; tree foliation; crop growth and progress; migrating birds; flowering dates of individual species like snowdrops and wood anemones in Spring; first sightings of butterflies and swallows; and listened for the first call of the cuckoo. His ground-breaking work developed into the 27 ‘Indications of Spring’ and were eventually reported to the Royal Society in 1789.

This pioneer of phenology created an enormous amount of interest with scientists, the British aristocracy and others with an interest in natural history both at the time and since. Robert Marsham had the vision to realise the deep significance of his findings and would tirelessly continue his phenology work and recordings up until his death in 1797.

Robert Marsham would not only prove to be an innovator by cataloguing nature’s seasonal footprints, he was also equally focused on the importance of managing his forestry plantations near Norwich, and experimenting with improving tree cultivation and growth.

Stratton Strawless Sign

Through the concerted efforts of a dedicated team of Stratton Strawless (Norfolk) villagers; Dr Tim Sparks of the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology in Huntingdon, David Tattersall, Chairman of the ETT Marketing Group in Norwich, and our website designer Chris Ridley, we are able to offer you an enlightening insight into Robert’s extraordinary innovative work as a precursor of modern arboriculture; his fascination with natural history and all the family’s illuminating recordings; and Robert’s – on occasions – tragic family traumas which might have deflected a less dedicated mortal.

We hope you will enjoy navigating through this glimpse into history reflecting many of Robert Marsham’s truly remarkable achievements, with such a scientific and political focus on climate change,CO2 emissions,forestry protection and environmental issues today,both Robert Marsham and phenology will become even more significant with the people of Great Britain and across the world.

More on phenology can be found at www.phenology.org.uk (Built in partnership with the Woodland Trust).